By Marleld Duran
Mothers breastfeed their newborn babies for the health of both their baby and themselves. While this process may make individuals feel uncomfortable, society needs to acknowledge that feeding a newborn child in public is a nonsexual, legal act.
According to March of Dimes, breastfeeding a baby provides them with essential nutrients that protect them from illnesses and help them grow healthy and strong.
In a study conducted by the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, Dr. Bernardo Lessa Horta concluded that babies that are breastfed are scientifically more intelligent when they are older.
Breastfeeding is not only the most beneficial way for mothers to feed their babies, but also their only option. A mother’s milk should be the only substance consumed by an infant during its first six months of life. Breastfeeding is especially important if a baby is born prematurely with a defect.
As infants reach six months of age, they are able to consume formula. However, some refuse it and prefer breast milk, leaving the mother with no other choice than to breastfeed whenever their child is hungry.
When mothers breastfeed in public, they are often asked to leave or cover themselves. They have the option of using a blanket, but not all find it convenient because a blanket causes heat and makes it difficult to see their baby underneath.
“My daughter refuses to take a bottle, so [do] I just stay home? Or should I starve her?” commented mother Katie Kasdorf on a Huffington Post article.
People’s discomfort with public breastfeeding may stem from the sexualization of the act. But, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, breastfeeding is a mammal instinct that mothers have had since 2000 BC. It is a way for them to feed their newborn, and is not by any means provocative.
In European countries such as Germany, nudity has been socially accepted for decades. According to CNN, nearly 600,000 Germans are registered in over 300 Free Body Culture (FKK) clubs. Children and adults in Germany are allowed to be nude in public areas without their bodies being sexualized.
Following Germany’s example, Americans must recognize the importance of breastfeeding to infants’ and mothers’ health over the image of partial public nudity.
“Many times you will see more ‘cleavage’ in the name of fashion than you ever would from a mom feeding her child,” said Raivon Lee in an interview with CNN.
The Huffington Post stated that in 47 of the 50 states, including California, breastfeeding can take place in any public or private area. Access to more private nursery rooms, such as those lo-
cated in the Westfield Santa Anita and Plaza West Covina malls, should be offered to mothers to make them feel more accepted while nursing and feeding their babies in public.